Students work with iPads in 2012 at Southold High School. (Credit: Katharine Schroeder, file)
There is no doubt that the largest portion of any local property tax bill is the amount funding the public school district. It’s a bill that causes taxpayers agita each and every year.
The 2 percent state cap on year-to-year tax levy increases is a temporary control tactic, not a sustainable strategy. And as we tighten our belts as a result of the cap, there are significant negative outcomes: pre- and after-school program cutbacks minimize opportunities for youth; increasing class sizes to maximum allowable levels results in instruction that cannot possibly address the needs and diversity of any given classroom population; lobbying for “our fair share” produces great photo-ops but makes us look like pigs at the trough; and staff layoffs are temporary fixes and only hand more responsibilities to someone already working at capacity, creating resentment and loss of pride in work.
So, what is the answer? (more…)
Ann Cotten-Degrasse, right, handing a plaque to Joe Ogeka in June 2013. (Credit: Tim Gannon, file)
The recent revelation that Joe Ogeka, an assistant superintendent of the Riverhead Central School District has been identified as the highest salaried public school official in the state for 2013-14 outside New York City caused many in our community to ask: How could this happen? How could this happen in a district with 51 percent free and reduced lunch enrollees, where the annual median family incomes trails the rest of Suffolk by $20,000 and where state aid for the annual operating budget is less than 25 percent? (more…)
Riverhead Town Hall (Credit: Barbaraellen Koch)
Last year, as candidates for the Riverhead Town Board, we sounded the warning bell about public officials also serving as high political party officials.
Often, in the rough-and-tumble and prism of a political campaign, issues like this are seen as personal. But as the movie line goes, “It’s not personal … It’s strictly business.” (more…)